What Fresh Hell Is This?

May 13, 2017

Senator Pat Toomey Has Responded!

But this time, it's via an email - not via the US Postal Service.

I am not sure what that means.  Are they trying to save on stationary, printer ink, and postage? Have they decided to upgrade their communications system to deal with the onslaught of concerned Pennsylvanians wishing and hoping and trying to get through to their junior Senator?

Inquiring minds want to know.  But not right now, maybe later.

One thing is for sure, they have my email address and they know how to use it.

Back to the business at hand as today we have a Toomey letter to deconstruct.  I'll post the PDF in its entirety at the bottom of this blog post.

Senator Toomey opens:
Thank you for contacting me about United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch. I appreciate hearing from you.
That's good to hear that he appreciates hearing from me, seeing as I've written twelve letters to him (so far).  Now we now the topic of the day: Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.

When did I ask about Neil Gorsuch and what did I say?

In my seventh letter, there's this:
I listened to your interview yesterday with Mike Pintek on KDKA yesterday (interestingly a day before the by now usual "Tuesdays For Toomey "events) and I was struck by your defense of Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch.

It was particularly interesting to hear you complain about Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer "thinks he has to oppose all things related to Trump" and the Senate Democrats' view that "we will go 4-8 years filling no vacancies on the Supreme Court because they can't get over the results of the election last year" when members of your party held exactly the same positions only a few months ago, on a 4 year vacancy at the Court and opposing all things related to Obama.

So here's my question: isn't that just a little hypocritical?
[Note to self: I really have to proof-read my emails better. The above was just unforgivably messy.]

And in my eighth letter, there's this:
We touched on the nomination of Neil Gorsuch last week so I won't belabor the point. However, I've read at Philly.com that you're in favor of doing away with the Senate filibuster in order to confirm Judge Gorsuch. Again, isn't that a tad hypocritical since only a few months ago you weren't even in favor of giving Merrick Garland the courtesy of a Senate vote?
But since the eighth letter references the seventh AND is actually about internet privacy, I think it's safe to assume that this Toomey email is a response to the latter letter and not the former letter.

So how does my Senator answer my question about his (and his party's) seeming hypocrisy?

Like this:
On January 31, 2017, President Trump nominated then-Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace Justice Antonin Scalia as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States.

I have long held that when considering judicial nominees, objective qualifications are more important than partisan politics, and -
Sorry, but I have to stop the Senator right there.  If "when considering judicial nominees, objective qualifications are more important than partisan politics" is so important, then where was the hearing and vote on President Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland?  Toomey's reason for opposing:
First, the balance of the Supreme Court is at stake, and we have an election right around the corner. With lifetime tenure, the next justice will determine the Court's balance for a generation.

In that light, I believe it is sensible to allow the American people to participate in the choice of Justice Scalia's successor less than seven months from now.
That first paragraph alone dissolves Toomey's argument about about how "objective qualifications are more important than partisan politics" in that with his excuse is profoundly political - this nominee from this Democratic President will tilt the "Court's balance" to the left and so that's why it has to be stopped. It has nothing to do with Garland's qualifications, does it?

And we still understand that the American people did participate in the choice of any Supreme Court nominee - by electing Barack Obama.  Obama, as we all remember won both the electoral college and the popular vote. Twice. As Trump failed to win the popular vote in 2016...well you know how that sentence ends, don't you?

But that was Toomey's first reason against Garland.  In his second, he goes to Guantanamo Bay:
I also raised with Judge Garland his approach to terrorist detainee cases. He authored an opinion that resulted in the release of 17 Guantanamo Bay prisoners who were part of a group of violent Islamist extremists the State Department had designated as terrorists.
Politifact, by the way, ruled this argument as mostly false.

But let's get back to Toomey's email defense of Neil Gorsuch:
Crucially, Justice Gorsuch understands that the proper role of a judge is to apply the law and U.S. Constitution as written, not to pick winners and losers based on personal or partisan policy preferences.
But take a look at another of Toomey's arguments against Garland:
Garland was the deciding vote to uphold the 2012 regulations of coal- and oil-fired power plants. Although the EPA predicted that the regulations would impose up to $2,400 in costs for every $1 of benefit, the agency stated that costs were irrelevant--a conclusion Garland upheld.

Fortunately, the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision authored by Justice Scalia, halted this rule.

Had Judge Garland been on the Court instead of Justice Scalia, the rule would be in effect today, killing more jobs and doing more harm to Pennsylvania's economy.
But isn't this "picking winners and losers" Senator?  Whether an economic outcome of a particular judicial decision is in sync with any particular partisan economic idea should be, by your own argument, completely outside the scope whether that argument is, in fact, the correct legal one, right?

Or do you only think that applies to non-conservative decisions by non-conservative judges?

I suspect we both know how I answer to that question.

Later in his letter, Toomey writes:
Despite the fact that Justice Gorsuch was clearly qualified for the court, on April 5, 2017, a partisan minority of my Senate colleagues chose to violate over 200 years of Senate precedent and launched the first-ever partisan filibuster against a Supreme Court nominee.

The Senate was left with an unfortunate choice: either allow a partisan minority to continue violating more than 200 years of Senate tradition and block a vote on the nomination of Neil Gorsuch, or act to restore Senate tradition and allow a bipartisan majority to take an up-or-down vote.
Again Senator, two words: Merrick Garland.  Where was this adherence to Senatorial tradition when the Supreme Court nominee was from a Democratic administration?  Aren't you guilty of blocking just such a vote?

Sorry to say, Senator, but you answered my questions about your and your party's hypocrisy with just more hypocrisy.

But this is still fun.  Let's do it again next weekend.


The Letter:

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